Last Monday marked 1 month for me in Iraq. I thought that a good time to review how I am doing personally. However, I traveled last Monday on short notice to Kirkuk and was there for 3 days. I've been busy catching up since I returned, so here is my 1 month and 6 day checkup.
Professionally. I really enjoy the challenges of my job. It is not clearly defined and I don't have anyone telling me specifically what to do, so I have a lot of latitude. I recently felt like I wasn't doing anything of consequence. Shortly after that I felt I had more work to do than I could possibly get done. I think overall I will be busy but there will be times when it will be slow, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. My biggest concern is not getting all the things done I want to do during this year. I had several things I wanted to complete during my first month here and some of them are still works in progress. I'll talk more in another post about what deploying means to me professionally.
Emotionally. I feel I am doing pretty well emotionally. Working in a one-person shop can be lonely at times. I typically have a bad habit of staying at my desk all day. So I've made a commitment to get out of my office everyday to either visit with other people in my building or go to other offices. I've stuck to that so far. I've spent time with friends outside of work a few times, probably more than I did in DC (in fact I have to leave shortly to meet up with friends to see the move "The Hangover"). I also recently got to see some very good friends that I hadn't seen in a while. I really enjoyed that. The important thing is for me to stay engaged with other people.
Spiritually. This is the one area that is not going as well as I would like. I am going to church every week and I'm regularly a Eucharistic Minister at mass. However, I don't feel as engaged spiritually as I would like. Sometimes I'm almost going through the motions. I haven't been consistent with reading the daily e-mail I receive through my Cursillo group. Most importantly, I haven't done any volunteer work since I have been here. For me, volunteering is putting my faith into action, that has especially been true since I arrived in Virginia in 2006. There are two primary options for volunteering, the hospital and the fellowship center next to the chapel. I've inquired about volunteering at the hospital, but I haven't heard back from them. I need to pursue that more aggressively, I know I'll be happier if I do.
Physically. I'm feeling good and getting into shape. I avoided the crud (cold/flu like feeling) that many people get when they first arrive, so that was good. I like the challenge of the CrossFit program (I'm still sore from Friday's workout) and plan on sticking with it. I want to get back into running and swimming. I just need to get off my butt and get started. I have a goal of completing an Olympic distance triathlon (1km swim, 40km bike, 10km run) while I am here (still need to get a bike). Except for a few meals, I'm sticking with my vegetarian diet. I could still eat healthier though by laying off the fried foods like onion rings. I'm looking forward to being a lean, mean, (not really) fighting machine when I leave here.
Overall, I would say it has been a very good first month. I'm looking at my time here as if it was any other assignment, so I'm not counting the days or focused on when I'm leaving. Just trying to do the best I can each day. I don't plan on doing these checkups each month, but I'm sure I'll do at least one or two more.
Thanks to all of you and everyone who has and continues to support me and the rest of our service members over here. That means more to us than you will ever know. God bless.